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The Graduate Management Review

Emotional Intelligence-Based Leadership

Hamish G. H. Elliott *

Emotional intelligence is receiving increasing attention from both academic-press and
popular-press in its challenges to previously-held normative theories. One developing
paradigm is that of Emotional Intelligence-based Leadership that has become popular for
identifying potentially effective leaders, and as a tool for developing effective leadership
skills. Despite this popularity, there is only limited theoretical discussion and empirical study,
and reports are dichotomised between popular-press and academic-press. This paper
integrates both the popular and scholarly theories and empirical research of Emotional
Intelligence-based Leadership into a comprehensive review.

In his highly influential Harvard Business Review articles, Daniel Goleman (1998a; 2000)
challenged the fundamentals of the pervading dominant theories of organisational leadership
by proposing that “IQ and technical skills are important, but emotional intelligence is the sine
qua non1 of leadership” (Goleman, 1998a, p. 93). Extending the reaches of his top selling
book Emotional Intelligence (Goleman, 1996) into management theory and its fields of
leadership and human capital development, Goleman brought the limelight of the corporate
world onto a relatively undeveloped field of psychology, developing it’s paradigmatic
structure (Goleman, 2001b; Kuhn, 1996). This paper seeks to explore (1) the concepts of
emotional intelligence (EI) and the models that encapsulate them; (2) the need for leaders to
use emotional intelligence; (3) the model of EI-based leadership; and (4) the empirical
support for EI-based leadership.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is “the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions
to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively
regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth” (Caruso, Mayer, &
Salovey, 2002, p. 56). Essentially, EI refers to one’s ability to recognise and regulate
emotions in oneself and others (Goleman, 2001a). George (2000) defines the term ‘emotion’
by distinguishing the difference between emotion and mood as intensity. Moods are more
pervasive and generalised feeling states that are relatively independent of the events or
circumstances that may have caused the mood in the first place and are low intensity
feelings that do not interrupt activities (George, 2000). Conversely, emotions are high
intensity feelings that are triggered by either internal or external stimuli, demand attention,
and interrupt cognitive processes and behaviours.

* This assignment was for MANT407, Advanced Human Resource Management.

Supervised by Associate Professor Graham Elkin
While, this intensity causes them to be more fleeting than moods, they are generally the
underlying causal factor of moods. Once the emotional intensity has subsided because the

An essential condition or element; an indispensable thing
23 - 36
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individual has cognitively or behaviourally dealt with the cause, the emotion can linger on in a
less intense feeling or mood (George, 2000).

While the sampling provided here is brief and indicative of a wider theory, it can be
concluded that, feelings and emotions are intimately connected to the human experience and
are intricately bound up in the ways that people think, behave, and make decisions (George,
2000)2. The abilities to manage these emotions are categorised into emotional abilities and
competencies by two dominant models of EI, Salovey and Mayer’s (1990) Ability model and
Goleman’s (1996) Competency (Mixed) model and their refined versions.

Salovey & Mayer’s ability model of emotional intelligence

The Ability model of EI was first constructed by Salovey and Mayer (1990) and begins with
the idea that emotions contain information about relationships and whether these
relationships are actual, remembered, or imagined, they coexist with emotions - the felt
signals of the relationship’s status (Mayer, Salovey, Caruso, & Sitarenios, 2001). Salovey &
Mayer’s four branch Ability model of EI facilitates an ability to recognise the meanings of
emotions and their relationships, and employ them to enhance cognitive activities (Mayer et
al., 2001). The Ability model divides EI into four branches: (1) perceiving emotions, (2) using
emotions to facilitate thought, (3) understanding emotions, and (4) managing emotions in a
manner that enhances personal growth and social relations (Dulewicz & Higgs, 2000; Mayer
et al., 2001; Salovey & Mayer, 1990). The model has undergone continual improvement
since its construction and the most recent version is offered by Caruso, Mayer, and Salovey
(Caruso et al., 2002), represented in Table 1.

The Perceiving branch addresses the perceptual skills of self-identification of emotions in

thoughts, identifying emotions in other people, accurate expression of emotions, and the
ability to differentiate and discriminate between accurate/real and inaccurate/phoney
emotions (Caruso et al., 2002). The second branch, Using Emotions, advocates their use in
prioritising thinking by directing attention to important events/factors, to generate emotions
that assist judgement and facilitate decision making, to utilise self-mood swings to change
perspective, and to use different emotional states to promote different means to problem
solving (Caruso et al., 2002).

The third branch, Understanding Emotions, is based on the ability to understand complex
emotions and emotional ‘chains’, the transition of emotions through stages, the ability to
understand relationships among emotions, and interpret the meanings emotions convey
(Caruso et al., 2002). The fourth branch, Managing Emotions, encompasses the ability to
reflectively monitor emotions and stay open to them, and the ability to engage or detach from
emotions. The branch also advocates the ability to determine whether an emotion is clear or
typical, and the ability to solve emotion-based problems without necessarily suppressing the
negative emotions (Caruso et al., 2002).

With specificity to this paper and the EI paradigm, it must be acknowledged that EI is distinct from
predispositions to experience certain kinds of emotions related to the personality traits of positive and negative
affectivity (George, 2000). It must also be noted that the term ‘emotional’ is used broadly to refer to moods as well
as emotions, and that EI covers the extent to which people’s cognitive capabilities are informed by emotions and
the extent to which emotions are cognitively managed (Dulewicz & Higgs, 2000; George, 2000).

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Table 1 The Ability Model of Emotional Intelligence (Caruso et al., 2002, p. 57)

Ability Skills
Perceiving Identify emotions in thoughts
Identify emotions in other people
Express emotions accurately
Discriminate between accurate and inaccurate feelings
Using Prioritise thinking by directing attention
Generate emotions to assist judgement
Mood swings change perspective
Emotional states encourage problem solving
Understanding Label and recognise relations among emotions
Interpret meanings emotions convey
Understanding complex feelings
Recognise emotional transitions
Managing Stay open to feelings
Engage/detach from an emotion
Reflectively monitor emotions

Goleman’s emotional competencies model

In Goleman’s (1998b) book, Working With Emotional Intelligence, he builds on his first book
(Goleman, 1996) and provides the first concrete and authoritative fusion of emotional
intelligence and the organisation. Where psychological theorisation has defined EI in terms of
individual traits, emotions, values, and behaviour (Dulewicz & Higgs, 2000), Goleman
(1998b) aligns psychological and organisational management theory by using Boyatzis’
(1982) concept of competency: an underlying personal characteristic such as motive, trait,
skill, self-image, or knowledge, that one uses for performance.

Goleman (1998b) defines emotional competence as a learned capability based on emotional

intelligence that results in outstanding work performance. Goleman’s (1998b) competency
theory of EI includes 25 competencies that were grouped into five categories similar to his
earlier work: (1) Self-Awareness: emotional awareness, accurate self-assessment, self-
confidence; (2) Self-Regulation: self-control, trustworthiness, conscientiousness, adaptability,
innovation; (3) Motivation: achievement, commitment, initiative, optimism; (4) Empathy:
understanding others, developing others, service orientation, leveraging diversity, [socio-]
political awareness; and (5) Social Skills: influence, communication, conflict management,
leadership, change catalyst, building bonds, collaboration and cooperation, team capabilities.
The theory postulates that the more competencies one has, the more emotionally intelligent
they are.

In Goleman’s latest publications, The New Leaders (Goleman, Boyatzis, & McKee, 2002)
and An EI-Based Theory of Performance (Goleman, 2001a), he presents a new version of
his original model that is more organisationally aligned to provide a means of EI-based
performance, and specifically for leaders, as demonstrated in Table 2. The change reflects
statistical analyses (Boyatzis, Goleman, & Rhee, 2000; Goleman et al., 2002) that supported
collapsing the twenty-five competencies into twenty competencies and the five domain
groupings into four domains (Goleman, 2001b). These four domains are further categorised
into Personal Competence and Social Competence (Goleman et al., 2002).

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Table 2 The Competency Model of Emotional Intelligence (Goleman, 2001a, p. 28)

Self Other
Personal Competence Social Competence
Recognition Self-Awareness Social Awareness

Emotional self-awareness Empathy

Accurate self-assessment Service orientation
Self-confidence Organisational awareness
Regulation Self-Management Relationship Management

Self-control Developing others

Trustworthiness Influence
Conscientiousness Communication
Adaptability Conflict management
Achievement drive Leadership
Initiative Change catalyst
Building bonds
Teamwork & collaboration

Personal Competence capabilities determine how we manage ourselves and is categorised

by two domains and their associated competencies: (1) Self-Awareness: emotional self-
awareness, accurate self-assessment, self-confidence; and (2) Self-Management: emotional
self-control, transparency: honesty/integrity/trustworthiness, adaptability/flexibility,
achievement/drive for performance, initiative, optimism (Goleman et al., 2002).

Social Competence capabilities determine how we manage relationships and is contained

within two domains: (1) Social Awareness: empathy towards others, awareness of
organisational-level currents, decision networks and politics; service to others; and (2)
Relationship Management: inspirational leadership, influence tactics, developing others,
change catalyst, conflict management, building bonds, teamwork and
collaboration/cooperation (Goleman et al., 2002) .

Evaluation of the Emotional Intelligence Models

Both models have been empirically validated and have been empirically tested with regard to
leadership, which will be examined later in this review. The Ability model is narrower in scope
than the Competency model and, as presented academically, it does not postulate as a
complete theory of workplace management. It is a model of a type of intelligence, and is
purported to coexist with, supplement, and clarify existing models of intelligence, and
especially, leadership (Caruso et al., 2002). Comparatively, the Competency model is
described as mixed as it includes a multitude of traits, is wide in scope, covers most of the
current theory on effectiveness, and is an amalgamation of many of the standard
competency models in use by Human Resource practitioners (Caruso et al., 2002).

While Caruso, Mayer, and Salovey (2002) are purportedly biased in their comparative review
of both models and temptingly dichotomous in their comparison towards their Ability model, it
is evident that the Competency model is equally as dominant in the academic theorisation.

It must be acknowledged that both models reviewed in this paper are based on neurological and
neuropsychological empirical studies that demonstrate the brain’s physical responses and functions and their
underlying basis of emotions. Neurological analysis, however, is well beyond the scope of this review. For further
information see: Caruso et al. (2002), George (2000), Goleman (1996; 1998b), Goleman et al. (2002)

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The majority of the empirical testing of emotional intelligence’s effect on leadership use both
Goleman’s (1998b) competency model4 and Salovey and Mayer’s (1990) model as the basis
for their studies. To provide a more-encompassing model of EI for testing some studies have
combined the models as they are not so seemingly dichotomous, but with further testing,
perhaps complementary. However, their proponents attribute both models to effective
leadership. For this review, the notion of complementarity is strongly concurred with and is
demonstrated through the use of the separation of the models to explain two different but
complementary questions: (1) Why do leaders need emotional intelligence? (2) How do
leaders use emotional intelligence?

Why do leaders need emotional intelligence?

The Ability model of EI provides a suitable medium for examining why leaders need
emotional intelligence through asking why leaders need to be able to (1) identify, (2) use, (3)
understand, and (4) manage emotions.

Caruso, Mayer, and Salovey (2002) report that studies have found that the ability for a leader
to identify emotions and feelings within themselves also allows them to accurately identify the
emotions of peers and groups, to express emotions accurately, and to differentiate between
honest and phoney emotional expressions. Empathy, the ability to understand and
experience another person’s feelings or emotions, is an important component of EI and
facilitates a leader’s social support and positive inter-personal relationships (George, 2000).
In their study comparing emotional and cognitive competencies as a basis of subordinate-
perceived effective leadership, Kellet, Humphrey and Sleeth (2002) report that empathy (a
substantial EI component) bore the strongest correlation with perceived effective leadership.
This suggests that perceiving others’ feeling and empathising with them may establish an
affective bond that is beneficial for leadership.

Leaders use of emotions can enhance cognitive processes and decision making (George,
2000), and allows leaders to understand and motivate others by making emotions available,
engaging in multiple perspectives that facilitate more flexible planning, and more creative,
open-minded, and broader thinking and perspectives (Caruso et al., 2002; George, 2000).
George (2000) reports research findings that when people are in positive moods they tend to
be more optimistic and have more positive perceptions and perspectives, compared with
negative moods, that result in the converse of pessimism and negativism.

Understanding EI provides functional insights into human behaviour and perceptions. This
understanding includes the ability to recognise relationships between emotions, determine
emotions’ underlying meaning, comprehend complex feelings and recognise and accept
emotional fluctuation (Caruso et al., 2002). Identification, use and understanding of emotions
facilitates effective management of emotions. In a longitudinal study of 382 team members
comprising 48 self-managing teams, Wolff, Pescosolido, and Druskat (2002), found that
empathy is the foundation for the cognitions and behaviours that support the emergence of
leadership. Overall, they conclude their results suggest that emotional intelligence,
particularly empathic competency, is a dominant factor of the leadership emergence in self-
managed teams.

Managing emotions allows leaders to dissipate and alleviate the effects of negative events
and provide redirection and focus towards more positive events and moods (Caruso et al.,
2002; George, 2000), termed by Mayer and Salovey (1997, cited in George, 2000) as meta-

No empirical testing has been published on Goleman et al.’s (2002) model yet.

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regulation of mood. Lewis (2000) reports that her laboratory study found that the emotional
tone of a CEO level leader has a significant effect on follower affect and perception of leader
effectiveness. Indeed EI leadership prescribes not just the ability to manage self-feelings and
moods, but ability to manage moods and emotions of others (George, 2000).

In a field study on the emotional dynamics of 20 self-managed groups, Pescosolido (2002)

reports that emergent leaders within groups adopt the role of managing the group’s
emotional state. They use their emotionally intelligent behaviour, (empathy, emotional
perception of self and others, emotional management of self and others, emotional
expression, emotional communication, inspirational leadership, role modelling) to
communicate messages to group members regarding group performance and contextual
events. Resultantly, group members read their leader’s behaviour and crafted emotional
interpretations of the situation, which then guided their own behaviour.

This empirical evidence has demonstrated the strong relationships between emotional
intelligence and performance, the existence of a relationship between emotional intelligence
and leadership style, and the need to combine emotional intelligence abilities and
competencies with leadership skill. Goleman et al. (2002) provide this linkage with the EI-
based model of leadership.

How do leaders use EI? - The EI-based model of leadership

EI-based leadership is based around the concept of emotional contagion (see Hatfield,
Cacioppo, & Rapson, 1992; Hatfield, Cacioppo, & Rapson, 1994; Neumann & Strack, 2000;
Wild, Erb, & Bartels, 2001), which refers to the ‘contagiousness’ of emotions where moods
and emotions of one individual are transferred to nearby individuals (Caruso et al., 2002;
Goleman et al., 2002; Kelly & Barsade, 2001). Through relatively automatic and unconscious
mimicking and synchronisation of facial expressions, vocalisations, postures, and
movements with those of another person (Kelly & Barsade, 2001), emotional synchronisation
(Goleman et al., 2002) occurs. Newcombe and Ashkanasy’s (2002) study of subordinates’
perceptions of leaders found that a leader’s positively expressed emotion led to higher
member ratings of the leader, and that members’ perceptions of leaders are associated with
the level of congruency between the leader’s verbal message and their nonverbally
expressed emotion. Subordinates’ level of positive affect was highly influenced by leaders’
emotional and affect expression (Newcombe & Ashkanasy, 2002).

Based on this concept of emotional contagion, Goleman et al. (2002) propose that due to a
leader’s authoritative position, they become the role model from which subordinates
synchronise and attune their behaviour because they look to their leader for stimulus. The
positivity or negativity of the leader’s affect, moods, and emotions is detrimental to the moods
of their subordinates, and consequently, their performance. However, they do acknowledge
that because not all leaders are emotionally intelligent, the role of emotional leader may fall
to a de-facto leader who provides the emotional support for a group (Goleman et al., 2002).

Taking this notion of synchronisation and attunement, Goleman et al. (2002) extends it into
the concept of resonant and dissonant leadership. The term resonance is defined in the
Oxford English Dictionary as “the reinforcement or prolongation of sound by reflection or by
synchronous vibration”. In simple terms, resonance is used in EI-based Leadership to
describe when synchronous vibrations of emotions occur – that is they are on the same
wavelength emotionally; what can be described as in synch, e.g. we both share the same
goals and values and are together happy in working towards them (Goleman et al., 2002).

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A group would be described as resonant when they are a reflection of their leader’s
enthusiasm and dedication to the task. When a group of people are resonant, there are less
negative emotions and ill feelings, which result in greater cohesiveness (sticking together)
and better results. The resonant group will share ideas, energy levels, enthusiasm,
dedication, values, norms, motivation and a mutual comfort level (Goleman et al., 2002)

Conversely, the word dissonance is a musical term for an unpleasant, harsh sound – a lack
of harmony. Dissonant leadership produces groups that are emotionally discordant; that is,
they share no bond, togetherness or cohesion. Therefore they share unproductive goals,
values and norms, low motivation, dedication, and satisfaction, and produce poor results
(Goleman et al., 2002). A dissonant leader is critical, negative, rude, uninspiring, arrogant,
selfish etc. etc. – the list is endless. Basically, a dissonant leader utilises position as their
dominant power base (see Yukl, 1994) and ignores the other power bases for gaining
respect and leading. The effect of this is a disharmonious team. There is no unity, motivation,
happiness, pride, self-development, hard work etc. The group atmosphere is very negative
and unenjoyable, and consequently resultant lower or poor performance (Goleman et al.,

Continuing the musical analogical interpretation, I propose the metaphor of the orchestra to
demonstrate the effective ideal of EI-based leadership. Atik (1994) provides an empirical and
functional study of leadership within an orchestra, but doesn’t explicate the true potential of
this forum for leadership theory. An orchestra is a micro-example of an organisation as it
consists of differentiated but interdependent sections of specialised instrumentalists that use
different tools, skills, and means of production (e.g. bow on strings versus blowing brass or
woodwind), and have sectionalised leadership. Each section plays different notes in different
melodies and rhythms but with the objective of contributing their differentiated sectionalised
parts together in a totally synchronised and interdependent fashion that results in resonance
and idealistically, harmony. Each part is interdependent, for with a part missing, there is a
harmonical gap in the sound.

At the core of this orchestration is the conductor. Underlying the whole concept of music is
the expression of emotion. The conductor literally leads the orchestra in an emotionally
contagious fashion so that the various sections become emotionally synchronised and feed
off each other’s emotional output – the quality and emotionality of their playing. The result is
a glorious nirvana of resonant harmonious sound that is both literally and figuratively in
synch. Without an effective leader/conductor, the differentiated sections will play their notes
and rhythms in accordance with the notated music, but struggle to keep in tune or in synch –
in effect, they become dissonant. Hence, why orchestras have conductors.

To be an effective, competent and resonant leader and promote harmony and resonance
over dissonance, EI-based leadership promotes the understanding and development of
emotional competencies (Goleman et al., 2002) that are reflected in a repertoire of
leadership styles. Research drawing on data from a Hay/McBer study of 3,781 executives
(Goleman, 2000) leads Goleman (2000; 2001a; Goleman et al., 2002) to categorise the role
of EI competencies in leadership effectiveness into a typology of six distinct styles of EI-
based leadership outlined in Table 3. The visionary, affiliative, democratic, and the coaching
styles, generally drive organisational climate in a positive direction. Conversely, the coercive
and pacesetting styles tend to negatively effect organisational climate, however, in the
appropriate situation, they can reap positive benefits (Goleman, 2001a).

Visionary leaders possess the emotional competencies of self-confidence, empathy, change

catalyst, and visionary leadership. The affiliative leader is empathic and competent in
building relationships and conflict management. The democratic leader is a strong

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communicator and listener, and encourages teamwork and collaboration. And the coaching
leader is empathic and emotionally self-aware, and competent in developing others’ potential
into skill (Goleman, 2000, 2001a; Goleman et al., 2002).

Table 3 EI-Based Leadership Typology. Adapted from Goleman (2001a) and Goleman
et al. (2002)

Visionary Coaching Affiliative Democratic Pacesetting Commanding

How It Builds Moves Connects Creates Values Meets Soothes fears

Resonance people what a harmony by people’s input challenging by giving
toward person wants connecting and gets and exciting clear direction
shared with the people to commitment goals in an
dreams organisation’s each other through emergency
goals participation
Impact On Most Highly Positive Positive Often Highly Highly
Climate strongly positive Negative Negative
positive (Because (Because
frequently frequently
misused) misused)
When When To help an To heal rifts To build buy-in To get high- In a crisis, to
Appropriate changes employee in a team, or consensus, quality results kick-start a
require a improve motivate or to get from a turnaround, or
new vision, performance during valuable motivated and with problem
or when a by building stressful employee competent employees
clear long-term times, or input team
direction is capabilities strengthen
needed connections
EI Self- Developing Empathy; Collaboration; Conscientious- Drive to
Competencies confidence; others; building team Ness; drive to achieve;
empathy; empathy; bonds; leadership; achieve; initiative;
change emotional conflict communication initiative emotional
catalyst; self- management self-control
visionary awareness

The commanding leader relies on a position power base (see Yukl, 1994) where autocracy
dictates conformance to their commands. The commanding leader may be strong in
achievement drive, initiative, and emotional self-control, these are countered by a lack of
empathy. The pacesetting leader’s objective is performance and exemplification to an
exceptionally high standard. While the pacesetting leader may be highly conscientious,
achievement-oriented and highly initiative, they are generally highly critical and tend to
micromanage or take over from subordinates instead of helping them to reach the high
standard (Goleman, 2000, 2001a; Goleman et al., 2002). The most effective leaders
integrate four or more of the six styles regularly, switching to one that is most appropriate for
the situation (Goleman, 2001a). This presents the question of how do these leadership styles
fit within the current leadership theory?

EI-based leadership’s fit within current leadership theory

Neither Goleman et al., (2002) nor Caruso et al. (2002) specifically align their EI-based
leadership models within the commonly accepted leadership models such as those
presented by Yukl (1994), Burns (1978), and Bass (1990). Caruso et al. (2002) consider EI

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as an underlying component of leadership functions that facilitates effective leadership

practice. George (2000) proposes that from an ability model position, EI-based leadership is
based on no specific leadership theory, but instead has its roots in a variety of theoretical
traditions. However, Goleman et al.’s (2002) model of EI-based leadership draws the
strongest explications towards particular leadership theories, specifically, the
transformational/transactional leadership model.

The complementary transformational/transactional leadership model (Bass, 1990) is the

general framework used for examining the empirical relationships between emotional
intelligence and effective leadership (Gardner & Stough, 2002). Burns (1978) distinguishes
the transformational leader as one who raises the needs and motivations of followers and
promotes change/development in individuals, groups and organisations, and the
transactional leader as one who meets subordinates’ current needs by focus on extrinsically-
motivated based exchanges (Gardner & Stough, 2002). Bass (1990) defines the
transformational leader as “one who arouses awareness and interest in the group or
organisation, increases the confidence of the individuals or groups, and attempts to move the
concerns of subordinates to achievement and growth rather than existence” (Gardner &
Stough, 2002, p. 68).

Bass’s (1990) concept of transformational leadership is fundamentally driven by a leader’s

emotional intelligence as each factor represents the emotional competencies of Goleman’s
(1998b) models, and the abilities of Caruso et al.’s (2002) model. Bass (1990) proposes that
transformational leadership is characterised by four factors termed the “four I’s”: (1) idealised
influence; (2) inspirational motivation; (3) intellectual stimulation; and (4) individualised
consideration (Bass, 1990; Sivanathan & Fekken, 2002). Applying the transformational
leadership model to Goleman et al.’s (2002) typology of effective EI-based leadership styles,
it is evident that the visionary, affiliative, democratic, and coaching styles are the most
complicit within transformational theory. Contrastingly, transactional leadership theory (see
Bass, 1990; Burns, 1978; Yukl, 1994) which proposes a leader-member exchange
relationship of need fulfilment for performance, is most strongly complicit with the
commanding and pace-setting styles of Goleman et al.’s (2002) leadership typology.

Empirical research supports the current hypotheses surrounding the superiority of

transformational versus transactional models and Bass (2002) reports that extensive
empirical evidence finds significant correlations between ‘transformational’ leadership theory
and the ‘traits’ of emotional intelligence. McKoll-Kennedy and Anderson (2002) found that
employee perceptions of a highly transformational leadership style are positively correlated
to directly increasing a subordinate’s optimism, and consequentially, indirectly increasing
their performance. Comparatively, subordinate’s perceptions of a low level of
transformational leadership are related to high levels of frustration and negative influence on
the workers’ performance. Pirola-Merlo, Hartel, Mann and Hirst (2002) report from their study
of leadership influence on affective events, team climate and performance, that
transformational leadership through effective management of the teams’ affective climate
(based on EI skills) is positively correlated to positive team performance. They conclude that
leaders need to focus on developing emotion management skills, demonstrating emotional
awareness, regulation, and intelligence, and in doing so, may exact superior performance
from their teams.

While empirical evidence supports Gardner and Stough’s (2002) proposition that
transformational leadership style is considered to be more effective than transactional style,
Goleman et al.’s (2002) final proposition that the emotionally intelligent leader integrates four
or more of the leadership styles and operates them based on the situation, is largely
reflective of the transformational/transactional paradigm’s extension to the situational

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approach to leadership (see Bass, 1990; Burns, 1978; Yukl, 1994). Fundamentally, based on
this premise, Goleman et al.’s (2002) theory is that the emotionally intelligent leader’s ability
to effectively perceive, use, manage, and understand their own and their followers emotions,
consequentially facilitates their reading of the situational factors and subsequent leadership
style adjustment from one of the six types, will determine the effectiveness, or resonance, of
their leadership. Effectively, they have the ability to use the positive factors of both
transformational and transactional styles.

Empirical evidence and support

A growing body of empirical support is building for the case of emotional intelligence and its
positive relationship with leadership. In a study on competence models drawn from 121
organisations worldwide by Goleman (1998b), it was found that 67 percent of the abilities
regarded as essential for effective performance were emotional competencies. In a similar
study, Chen, Jacobs and Spencer (1998, cited in Fatt, 2002) found that emotional
competencies were 53 percent more frequent in organisational ‘star performers’ than other
competencies, such as cognitive competencies, which only rated 27 percent.

Cavallo & Brienza (2000) conducted a study on 358 managers across the Johnson &
Johnson Consumer & Personal Care Group globally to distinguish leadership competencies
of successful performers from low performers. 1400 employees were also surveyed to
measure perceived successful leadership competencies, particularly those of emotional
intelligence. A strong relationship was found between superior performing leaders and
emotional competence, which suggests that emotional intelligence is a distinguishing factor
in effective leadership (Cavallo & Brienza, 2000).

Recent empirical studies (Barling, Slater, & Kelloway, 2000; Gardner & Stough, 2002;
Palmer, Walls, Burgess, & Stough, 2001; Sivanathan & Fekken, 2002) have all demonstrated
that EI-based leadership is most strongly related to effective transformational leadership style
and that emotional intelligence is a fundamental causal-factor of effective transformational

Barling et al. (2000) and Palmer et al. (2001) suggest that the higher the level of emotional
intelligence a leader has, predisposes them to use transformational behaviours. Based on
the concept of idealised influence from Bass (1990), these authors suggest that because
leaders act as role models for their followers, the leaders ability to understand and manage
their emotions and display self-control strongly effects the followers’ trust and respect.
Barling et al. (2000) and Palmer et al. (2001) also propose that leaders who are competent at
understanding emotions are more likely to have better perceptions of followers’ expectations,
and thus more effective at using inspirational motivation (Gardner & Stough, 2002). Thirdly,
an emotionally intelligent leader’s ability to manage emotions and relationships results in
greater individualised consideration as they are more able to understand and react to
followers’ needs (Barling et al., 2000; Gardner & Stough, 2002; Palmer et al., 2001).
In their study of 49 managers, Barling et al. (2000) found that emotional intelligence is
positively related to three components of transformational leadership (idealised influence,
inspirational motivation, and individualised consideration) and one component of
transactional leadership, contingent reward. Further supporting the case for emotional
intelligence’s relationship with transformational leadership, they also found that EI is not a
component of laissez-faire leadership (see Yukl, 1994) or the two other components of
transactional leadership: management-by-exception active and management-by-exception
passive (Barling et al., 2000; Gardner & Stough, 2002). Emotional intelligence and
inspirational motivation were the most strongly correlated and suggests the importance of the

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EI dimension in understanding emotions for effective leadership (Barling et al., 2000;

Gardner & Stough, 2002).

Palmer et al.’s (2001) study of 43 managers found that the leaders’ ability to both manage
and monitor their own and others emotions were both significantly correlated with the
inspirational motivation and individualised consideration components of transformational
leadership (Gardner & Stough, 2002; Palmer et al., 2001). Significant correlation was also
found between the ability to monitor own and others’ emotions with the transformational
leadership components of idealised attributes and idealised behaviours, which when
combined reflect charisma (Gardner & Stough, 2002; Palmer et al., 2001).

Extending Palmer et al’s (2001) methodology and studying 110 senior level managers,
Gardner and Stough (2002) found that EI correlated highly with all components of
transformational leadership and the strongest correlation was found between individual
consideration and understanding emotions external (Gardner & Stough, 2002). A positive
relationship between contingent rewards and emotional intelligence was found, but no
correlations were found between other components of transactional leadership and
emotional intelligence (Gardner & Stough, 2002).

They conclude that leaders with the ability to manage positive and negative self, and others’
emotions are more able to articulate a strategic vision, talk optimistically, provide
encouragement and meaning, stimulate in others new ways of doing things, encourage
expression of new ideas and resolve problems constructively (Gardner & Stough, 2002). In
sum, a leader’s emotional intelligence is important in enabling them to take advantage of and
use their positive emotions to facilitate and induce organisational performance (Gardner &
Stough, 2002).

A major criticism of these three studies is that they all used self-reported data as the basis of
their studies. Sivanathan and Fekken (2002) address this issue by using self-other reporting
where subordinates and superiors rated leadership behaviours and effectiveness and
emotional intelligence was rated by the leaders themselves. Supporting their hypotheses,
Sivanathan and Fekken (2002) found that leaders reporting greater emotional intelligence
were perceived by the subordinates as displaying greater transformational behaviours, and
additionally, as more effective. These findings replicate Barling et al.’s (2000) and Palmer et
al.’s (2001) findings and supports Goleman’s (1996; 1998b) propositions (Sivanathan &
Fekken, 2002).

The Graduate Management Review

The emotional intelligence paradigm is relatively new and its transposition into management
theory provides some exciting areas for future study, especially within the realms of human
capital development, and specifically, leadership development. Leading on from this paper,
this author considers two areas of study for future consideration: a thorough review of the
concept of emotional contagion and its normative implications for management theory, and a
comprehensive literature survey examining the fit of EI-leadership competencies within those
already held as fundamental within current leadership theory. It must be noted that the
empirical support for EI-based leadership is still only minor and further rigorous and wider
study is required before it can be fully considered a dominant model of leadership.

However, the empirical evidence offered in this review does provide support for the
contention that EI-based leadership is proving to be more effective than other models of
leadership and is resulting in better performance. This paper has brought the EI-based
leadership model within the bounds of current leadership theory by demonstrating the
empirical relational linkage of its traits/competencies/abilities with the practices of
transformational versus transactional and laissez faire leaders. Both the Ability model and
the Competency model provide thorough and rigorous models for examining EI and its
empirical effects, relationships and consequences. By possessing or gaining the emotional
intelligence abilities and competencies, and using them as the basis of organisational
leadership, it is proposed that these leaders will be more effective.

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